In Kathy’s words – The Running Whys


“Kathy, left, competed in a number of races last year, ultimately completing her first half marathon. (Photo: Topher Seguin)

“Race day was utter joy – one of those days you will remember for rest of your life. It was a beautiful fall day in my hometown of Charlottetown. I didn’t care about my time; I just wanted to run every single step. The tears started falling down my cheeks at the 4 km mark. That’s when I had gotten rid of my race nerves and was approaching the intersection where my daughters would be cheering for me.”

When Kathy decided to run a half marathon last year, she did so with some uncertainty. But it was fantastic to witness her progress, moving from single digits in training kilometres to each barrier she broke as the distances increased. Beyond that, though, was seeing her great determination and sheer will in order to meet her goals. A couple of years back, she did a half marathon, walking, as part of a Nordic-walking club, completing the route in a few seconds under four hours. This year in running the P.E.I. Half Marathon, after months of intense training, she took almost one hour and 30 minutes off that time, an amazing reward for her commitment.

Here is her story.




by Kathy Kaufield

I didn’t mean to become a runner. Continue reading

Recovery, fond memories, next goals


This was in the early stages of the P.E.I. Marathon Sunday as we ran adjacent to Brackley Beach.

I figure it took about 72 hours after the marathon for my legs to feel right. The biggest pains were in my thighs and walking to my second floor office was a chore on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But other than that, the physical discomfort and pain levels after the P.E.I. Marathon were surprisingly low, at least compared to a year earlier in Moncton.

I must admit, I have slept very well this entire week and while there was an urge to Continue reading

The calm before the storm


The race gear is ready for the 2013 Prince Edward Island Marathon.

Less than 12 hours away from the big race, we were carbed up, we were about to say goodbye to the girls for the night and my wife and I were headed back to our hotel to a good night’s sleep before our respective full and half marathons as part of the Prince Edward Island marathon weekend.

There were plenty of well wishes and words of encouragement and this piece of sage advice from one – ‘don’t you two have a wild night at the hotel’

Well now.

It has been a busy weekend already. We arrived Friday in a pretty decent downpour, took part in the kids Spud Run on Saturday, an event that featured sun but wind gusts of more than 35km hr. We did some visiting, took the kids swimming and enjoyed a wonderful supper with friends, family, and fellow Continue reading

The hay is in the barn and another look back at the 2012 Legs for Literacy Marathon

I wrapped up the final training run for the Prince Edward Island Marathon last night, although I may get out today and/or tomorrow for a 20-min jaunt to shake out the cobwebs.

I went 8.5 km at relaxed pace with 2 km at MP. I am definitely in full taper madness mode as I wanted to go so much faster, felt phantom aches everywhere and kept thinking ‘Did I do enough?’

The weekend is pretty hectic with activities planned with the family, some carb loading and the Spud Run for kids at UPEI. That’s a two-lap event around the track at the university, followed by medals and lots of other stuff. We are staying at a hotel in the heart of the city, Continue reading

Welcome back; It’s been a while

A sure sign of fall is the obsession over fantasy football stats, back to school shopping and the Hampton 5-miler.  The Hampton race has developed into a tradition for our family, with events for the girls to get them into the swing of things, including a fun warm-up and a 1 km event around the school and the track. After, there is a challenging 8 km route for the adults, one featuring two decent hills that will test you as well as a significant downhill portion that can yield fast, fast times.

This year, the event serves as the NB championship for the 5-mile distance, which is a way to say there will be plenty of top level racers on hand and the pace will be quick.

That said, it is important for the rest of us to go our own pace and not to get caught up with the fast-paced rabbits. Easier said than done!

This is just my second race of the year, but it will be a good assessment of where I am at in prep for PEI.

The past two years, I have posted times of 38:04 and 38:02 for the 8 km. Not sure if I can better those but those will serve as measuring sticks.

After this race, it is likely we will head to Fredericton for a half marathon Sept. 22, the final race test before PEI.

As you can gather by the elongated break from this blog, August was pretty hectic in terms of life at the family homestead. My wife, who is training for a half marathon in PEI as well, was out of the country for nine days, we wrapped up our soccer season, traveled to PEI for my cousin’s wedding, which I took pictures at, and then got ready for school.

It ultimately cost me in terms of running. There were some gaps for sure. I got all the Sunday long runs in and most of the general runs but the biggest victims were the speed and tempo runs.

Tuesday, was a nice 11km recovery run with a slight drizzle, nothing too major and certainly not the downpour it was at times during the day.

It finished with six strides, those 100 metres sprints with 200 metres break. Overall, it was a nice evening for a run.

On the weekend, I tackled 32 km for the second time. It was humid and I started at 11:30 a.m. Two big strikes against potential success. Let’s say, if the humidity is a factor in PEI, I am toast. That simple. Sunday, I was great for the first 24 km then it hit.

So I basically ran-walked the final 8 km and still finished with an average of 6:35 per k, which is more than acceptable for a long slow run. Just the finish was blah.

This week features the Hampton run and a 27 km long run as well as some extended tempo work Thursday, featuring a series of 1,200 m intervals at 5km speed.

Just took a look at the registration for PEI. Last year, 275 people finished the full marathon and 3:59:59 was good for 117th place, slightly better than halfway. This year, registration is at 114 to date.


Getting ready to take on the Pfitz


The sunny beaches of P.E.I. look fantastic in the summer. My wife snapped this great shot a few years ago during one of our many visits to da Island. Symbolically, I wonder how they will appear in October, in the cool fall atmosphere, moments before the P.E.I. marathon kicks off.

A question for another day!

This week’s update comes on the eve of a small accomplishment. With just two weekend runs remaining, the first mini goal of the training program is almost complete – four weeks of progressing to the baseline of the Pfitzner 18/55 training plan for the P.E.I. Marathon.

There are a number of stages in the complete plan, with the next six weeks dedicated to endurance building. Long runs in this stage peak at 26 k and there is even a mid-week ‘medium long run’ that hits 16k at one point. Longer efforts are in store in the subsequent stages but this stage essentially builds your stamina on top of the blocks achieved in the preliminary round.

This week’s runs have included a tempo effort, with 4k at 5:00/per km pace as part of a 10k run, then a 6k recovery at 6:39/per km and a 12k general aerobic run Thursday at 6:21/per km.

On the weekend, I have an 18k long run planned for Father’s Day! No sleep in but I should be able to hit more than 50k for the week in five outings.

There is big news in the house this week, though. My lovely and talented wife is also going to run in P.E.I., as she is taking on the challenge of running the half marathon in and around Charlottetown. She is making great progress and is combining her efforts in the gym with running. It has already made a big difference as earlier this year, she knocked almost seven minutes off her 5k time from 1999!

This is what she wrote in her column this week: “Running a half marathon has always been on my bucket list, and I’ve got a ‘significant’ birthday coming up this year. It’s the perfect time to do something scary and challenging.

Awesome, I say.

Seems no shortage of marathon topics to read and watch as many have just started or are about to start their summer training for October marathons. On YouTube, one interesting topic was a screening this week of Spirit of the Marathon II in the U.S., a documentary on a number of runners at last year’s Rome Marathon. It looks fantastic and the trailer can be seen here.

However, there are also trailers for the opening version – Spirit of the Marathon, along with the entire first documentary, based on training for the Chicago Marathon in 2005.

This weekend, of course, many Dads will get crazy ties, gift certificates for the golf course and lots of special attention. I really can’t wait to see what the girls have in store. It is also a time of reflection though, one in memory of my father Jack. I wrote a piece after he died and I find myself reading it once in a while. From time to time, I find this story is a great reminder of days gone by.  I have a photo of him and I at the end of the 2000 Confederation Bridge run. He showed up to see what all the fuss was about and was there when I finished the 14k trek. I’ll try to track that down.

Have a great weekend.

Liking the new approach to the long run

Both good and bad to report as the third week of a four-week base training plan finished up. Now, it is the last bit of ‘preparation’  and the homestretch of the first stage of getting ready for the P.E.I. Marathon.

The good was my developing admiration for the Pfitzer approach to dealing with long runs. That is breaking them into two segments; the first at 20 per cent above goal pace and the second at 10 per cent above goal pace. Sunday’s LSD was 16k and with various scheduling options, I got out for a nice afternoon run, with temperatures in the mid teens C, not bad humidity and a slight wind that was at my back for the first half and facing me in the second half.

The goal for the run equated to 8K @6:41 pace to start , followed by 8K @6:07 to finish. As has been the case, I have been struggling to hit the targets. Slow is good for these lengthy runs, the run doctors say. Over stressing on the long runs can lead to problems and fatigue through the week on other runs and eventually, injuries or other factors will kick in to curtail training efforts.

The result Sunday was an opening half in 6:29 per k and the second half in 5:48 per k, for a nice negative split. There is quite a hill (the girls and I call it Will Hill) in the final 500 metres of this course, and last week I walked a small part of the way. This time, I made it all the way, which was a nice way to end.

The bad was just four runs for 41K – 9K and one outing short of the weekly goal. I was going to run Thursday and Friday evenings but each night, once I crossed the 9:30 p.m. threshold, I was too tired. I really have to deal with this soon, especially in the second week of the actual plan, when Kms take a decided increase.

Another bad note was eating – see note on weight below.

Week 3, 41 k, four runs, including 16k-long run

Week 4, goal 50 k, run 5 times, get in 18k-long run.

Weight – 188 last week; 189 this week (too many of those tasty Tims’ cinnamon rolls this week as well as Pizza two nights for supper)

Looking back before racing ahead

It had been a while since I was that nervous for a sporting event. I mean, I never really reached any significant level in minor sports but the 2012 Legs for Literacy marathon was a special event personally – a Bucket List moment which I delighted in sharing with my family for a weekend getaway in Moncton.

That was last October and while I was so happy I finished in 4:13:13, I never truly evaluated my performance, other than feeling fantastic about finishing and understanding there was a lot of room for improvement.

So before I get too far into the 2013 Marathon training, I needed to review my result in Moncton.

BEWARE – Number crunching ahead!

My optimism levels were reasonably good for that first marathon, considering I had a 38:02 clocking in the Hampton five miler about five weeks before. I had a tough time in the half at the Marathon By the Sea (August, 1:52:53), dealing with hills, no taper and high humidity but I was thrilled with a 1:42:53 in the Fredericton half marathon in May. It was this result which gave me the confidence to go ahead and give the 42.2k a try. Looking back, that time provided a little too much confidence during the dog days of summer training and I think caused me to believe I could always maintain that speed with basic maintenance running in the summer (i.e. no tempos or hills). One of many lessons learned along the way.

For Moncton, I used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan, which called for long runs on Sunday that grew in distance each time out. There were also two weekly medium long runs that progressed in length throughout the journey as well. Things were completed with small maintenance runs that assisted in boosting mileage. I tried to run throughout each of the runs, not deploying the 10-1 philosophy some suggest. Mileage peaked at approximately 45 miles per week.

Generally, my pace for the shorter runs was at 5:45 per kilometre and the long runs clocked at 6:00-6:05 per kilometre. A massive challenge was discipline, particularly with eating, diligently completing those medium runs. At times, I struggled in longer runs with stomach issues.

Using past performance as a guide and the great unknown as a reality check, I figured I might fall anywhere between 3:50 and 4:30.

Prior to the Moncton, we arrived the day before, enjoyed the carbo loading meal and took in Crystal Palace with the girls before calling it a night.

The next morning, I was up early and because the hotel’s entrance was adjacent to the start line – I was one of the first ones there! There were some anxious pre-race moments as my battery for my MP3 player went dead and at 6:30 a.m., it was hard to find another. Thankfully, I got one from a generous hotel clerk, who had a supply on hand!

After a warm up and seeing some friends near the start line, the horn sounded and we were off. It was hard to hold back from the surging pull of the rabbits in the early stages but I tried to keep in mind that a 5:41/k pace would get me near 4 hours at the end. As it turned out, I went out a little too fast, held on for about 32 k and then hit the dreaded wall. That is not a smack, slamming feeling but one of sheer and utter exhaustion. Next time, I hope to avoid that stage.

Anyway, here are the splits with a few comments: For nutrition, I ate a chocolate gel every seven KM and drank a few sips of water every 2.5 k.

First 10k (55:35) – 5:41, 5:39, 5:30, 5:29, 5:21, 5:27, 5:38, 5:34, 5:36, 5:36. (Felt too good at 4-6 km, was high fiving volunteers, low fiving others, thumbs up to all, not conserving energy)

Second 10k (1:51:40) – 5:34, 5:39, 5:29, 5:46, 5:35, 5:36, 5:35, 5:33, 5:36, 5:38 (pretty consistent but 3-11 seconds per km faster than desired pace, not  a big deal I thought. Wrong).

Halfway 1:57:13 (the turnoff toward the finish for the half marathoners took place at about 18-19 k, so midway through, there were very few of us on the full course, alone with our thoughts in the middle of a nice flat trail).

Third 10 k (2:50:00) 5:32, 5:34, 5:36, 5:52, 5:25; 5:40, 5:45, 6:04; 6:28; 6:18 (still felt pretty good until I encountered the gentle rolling hills in Dieppe. Stopped a couple of times in 28th, 29th and 30th kilometres but always got back at it and felt I could deal with it, which was evidenced early in next segment. I also thought since I had banked some time earlier, that as long as I resumed, I’d be OK to finish steady…of note, banking time in a marathon is not a good idea).

Fourth 10 k (3:55:05) 5:49, 5:37, 6:39, 6:49, 6:42, 6:41, 6:40, 6:10, 6:45, 7:07 (at 31-32k I thought I had recovered from the worst. But the continuing rolling hills in Dieppe and my earlier enthusiasm got to me. From 33-37k, it was a lot of 2 minutes run, 30 seconds walk, or 1 minute run, 1 minute walk – in other words, slow going; I recovered slightly for 38th kilometre and then fatigue really hit. I had a hard time lifting my legs in 39th and 40th kilometres. People were passing me with ease. The finish seemed light years away. Honestly, it was quite a fight at this point.

Moncton run 053web

The final stage (4:13.13) 7:43, 7:15, 3:11 (My Garmin measured 42.52k which from what I understand is normal. I read prior to the event that apparently Garmins can be off one per cent, which accounts for the difference from the official distance. But the 41st and 42nd  kilometres were torture, really. The pace bunny for 4 hours had come back to help, encouraging me to the finish. Finally, the last turn came and the final stretch run of about 400 metres was down Main Street in front of the crowd that remained. When my daughters joined me, I mustered up whatever bit of energy I had and pointed toward for home. It was a special moment, with them along for the ride. Prior to the race, the girls and Kathy each gave me a stone with an inspirational message on it that I did hold at various times in the race.

When I finished, I could barely walk and was surprised how instantly cold I got. I was elated to finish, caught off guard on emotions and thankful the girls were there. I got a massage but it was awful as I cramped the entire time.

I chugged 4-5 chocolate milks, warmed up and that was that! My friend April snapped some great shots and at Christmas time, Kathy gave me a framed print of one of the photos along with the stones and a small plaque with my time engraved. Very special.

Start 8:15 a.m. finish 12:28 p.m.

Average pace 5:57; calories burned 3,797 (that is the equiv of two of those massive bags of nibs – trust me, I know).

Looking back, it was an accomplishment I took more and more pride in during the winter. Reviewing it with an eye on improving, my long runs in training were too fast, and for various reasons, I had to stop on many of them, even briefly. Also, on race day I went out way too fast (55:35 for first 10k) in the big race and I paid the price. I probably should have paid a bit more attention to my diet (damn Party Mix!).

All lessons learned.

All in all, a wonderful experience and when looking back when I weighed 235 pounds in 2006, it was something I never envisioned taking place.

Now for the second one!